Forsyth Technical Community College’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Selected as One of Only 40 Nationwide for 2017-2018 Aspen Presidential Fellowship

Highly-Selective Program Expanding Talent Pipeline Amid Looming Shortage Of Community College Presidents And Critical Need To Support Student Success

Dr. Rachel Desmarais, Forsyth Tech’s EVP and COO, has been awarded the prestigious Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence. The highly selective leadership program is aimed at developing a new cadre of outstanding leaders capable of transforming student success at community colleges across the U.S. The Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C., today announced that Dr. Desmarais joins the 2017-2018 class of Aspen Presidential Fellows.

“I am honored to be selected as one of the forty leaders from across the nation for this second cohort of Aspen Presidential Fellows,” Dr. Desmarais says. “I look forward to leveraging my experience in this fellowship for the benefit of Forsyth Tech.”

Dr. Desmarais and the 39 other Aspen Presidential Fellows will embark on a year-long fellowship in July 2017. Delivered in collaboration with the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative and top community college leaders, the program focuses on a new vision of leadership and aims to guide new and aspiring community college presidents to dramatically change student outcomes in four areas: learning, completion while in community college and of bachelor’s degrees after transfer, employment and earnings after graduation, and equitable access and success for underrepresented minority and low-income students.

“I am very pleased that Dr. Desmarais has been selected for the Aspen Presidential Fellowship, one of the most prestigious leadership development programs for community college leaders,” says Forsyth Tech president Dr. Gary Green. “Her selection attests to Dr. Desmarais’ status as a current and future leader in community college education. I know that Forsyth Tech will benefit greatly from her participation in this program.

According to the American Association of Community Colleges, 365 presidents left their posts over the past year. This staggering rate of turnover is happening at the same time that increasing numbers of students—including growing numbers of minority, low-income, and first-generation to college students—are flocking to community colleges to earn degrees that lead to good jobs.

Dr. Desmarais was selected through a rigorous process that considered her abilities to take strategic risks, lead strong teams and cultivate partnerships, and focus on results-oriented improvements in student success and access.

The 2017-2018 Aspen Presidential Fellows hail from 24 states and 38 community colleges of varying sizes. The program is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, College Futures Foundation, ECMC Foundation, Greater Texas Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation.

For more information about the program:

Dr. Desmarais

Forsyth Tech EVP and COO Dr. Rachel Desmarais has been named an Aspen Presidential Fellow.